The book or the film?
A Scottish girl recruited by secret service to work with the resistance in France during WWII. Falls in love with a British pilot Peter, who is shot down over France.
Julian is her resistance co-worker in France, who she also likes.
A full one third of the book was dedicated to Peter and Charlotte, which gave you a much closer insight into both of their personalities and why they made the decisions they did. Charlotte was in a way a strong character, making things happen. Peter came across, and he said it himself, as one that didn’t think things through but went along and acted on a situation that came up. He was very much disturbed by loosing almost all of his friends in the Battle of Britain. Which was the first big air fight for control of the skies over Britain. Even the two men who recruited Charlotte pretty much said he and all men who came through there were emotionally disturbed.
Charlotte was distanced from both her parents. The hinted at problem of her child hood with her father was sorted out in a satisfactory way in the book. Referring back to WWI and how it had affected him as a doctor. Her relationship with Julian’s father was tied into her relationship with her father. Both had fought in WWI. I felt so much of the book was about her relationship with Julian’s father not with Julian and not with the children. At the end of the book she felt a need to let him know why Julian did what he did. Traveling up to the internment camp, paying for a guard to tell him. She did not go for the children, although she saw their suitcase on the station platform, what was that about? I don’t think I ever came to a conclusion on that. Was it just that she knew that they had left the internment camp and had been transported. I thought she would act on that knowledge, but she didn’t do anything.
Julian’s father was a painter. You didn’t get the impression that the house was as run down as they depicted in the movie, because Charlotte was hired to clean it. They also had another servant I think and the girl who came to pose, whose house the children were eventually hidden in, not for long though. Julian’s mother did not die young she was around when he was a boy. He spent time with his father at the shore along with other artistic friends. Although he was not a good father, the animosity towards his father did not come across so strongly as in the film.
I didn’t think that her going to France was primarily to find Peter; it was secondary to her need, although part of it. Her relationship with Julian I did not find at all central to the story. Also she was never told by her contact that Peter was dead, was she? She did try to find Peter initially, but the contact was cold and she left it there. The book did go into more detail about how Peter escaped from France. Which builds up more about Peter, and that is why when you come to the end of the book, you have no feeling that she has even thought about staying or going back to Julian.
The two Jewish children, Andre and Jacob, Julian was the one that I think was more especially close to them, and the two older ladies whose house they stayed in, in town. Julian would visit them. Charlotte would go now and again, you didn’t get the idea though that they were constantly on her mind. Also after the children were moved to the country the old lady at the house betrayed them, although they probably would have found them.
I haven’t mentioned the movie too much. The movie gave Hope for both Julian’s father, who was one quarter Jewish and the boys. Also they did not have to face the ordeal alone. The book left you no hope, taking both to their ultimate conclusion. There was no letter in the book. When the boys were taken in the movie, I did think, better they had been taken all at once with their parents, but then they had Julian’s father. In the book they never came to know his father. So I felt they definitely would have been better off if they had been taken with their parents in view of the outcome. If the outcome had been different and they had not been found then of course I would say it was a good thing they did not go with their parents.
How about B. I cannot think of his name. Benoir comes to my mind but I don’t think that’s right. The schoolteacher. There was a lot more background as to why he did what he did, his thinking on how the war would go. Also the fact that many thought like him and did not like Churchill and the British, but would rather have the German’s there with a Vichy government, and get rid of the Jews and the Communists. B’s need for recognition and power. The girl who was the telephoned exchange operator, she was not so much against them.
There were many more characters in the book, all the different resistance workers and a mention of the two groups, the Gaullist’s and the Communists.
The conclusion of the book was satisfactory, with the good outcome with her father. Peter coming to the realization that he truly did love her and he lived to be reunited with her. But as in true life the sadness. The small wish of Julian’s father that Charlotte would like Julian, but he knew it wasn’t so, because she had told him about Peter and knew she didn’t feel that way towards him. No hope for the father and the children.
The book did leave you to think that Peter and Charlotte would go back to France to visit the families and individuals who had helped them. As with Peter and the elderly couple who took him in with his bad leg and shared all they had with him. Julian and Charlotte had a strong friendship, which was more, for a brief moment of need. You felt that after the war Peter and Charlotte would go back to France together to visit.
In the movie Charlotte sees Peter, tells him it’s all over, too much water under the bridge. After the war she goes back to France, to see Julian, and their future is together.
Which did I like more, well I liked both, but the movie held out more hope.